From [TBC] To The Polar Lands - Rolling Russia / "Near Abroad" News Thread

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Late in the year to be starting a rolling news thread but plenty of news around.

New law to limit foreign ownership of media outlets to 20%, down from 50%, proposed, likely to strengthen pro-government sources:

Fairly large anti-war protests in Moscow last week:

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg, though - traditionally the only real focal points for opposition. How long that will last if rouble continues to decline remains a question.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has formed a new political platform in exile and says that he'd be willing to lead Russia, if called upon. For the record, i would also be willing to lead Russia if called upon and would estimate my chances of it actually happening to be roughly the same. Note the shift from "oligarch" to "tycoon" in the western press over the last few years.

In other exile news, Saakashvili now lives in Williamsburg and is still kind of a dick:

In other oligarch news, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, owner of Bashneft, and one of the richest men in Russia is still under house arrest:

Seen by some as a warning shot to oligarchs to think twice about trying a 'palace coup' vs Putin to head off further economic losses. More likely a warning shot to the west that tightening the vice on Russia's economy with sanctions might be met with further moves to consolidate Kremlin control domestically.

Speculation that Russia has signed a $10bn agreement with South Africa to build nuclear power stations, denied for the moment by the SA government.

The most popular foreign leader, according a poll of Ukrainians, is...Alexander Lukashenko!Despite widely being thought of, in Russia, and the west, as a moron, Lukashenko has played both sides pretty well in the Ukraine crisis and is apparently gaining popularity in Belarus. idk if his wife is still under house arrest.

Gulnara Karimova has hired a UK-based PR company to highlight her own house arrest in Tashkent. Still a really weird situation.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 10:17 (eight years ago) link

ShariVari for president of Russia, I support

, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:03 (eight years ago) link

Depressingly, polling suggests that Putin might actually be winning back support from 'liberal' Moscow and St Petersburg

polling by whom? given that the media is coming more closely under kremlin control, how reliable can these conclusions be?

busted (art), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 12:55 (eight years ago) link

Polling conducted by the Levada Center is generally thought to be fairly reliable outside of Russia. They are independent of government and tracked Putin's decline in popularity before he bounced back up.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 24 September 2014 13:47 (eight years ago) link

Sanctions starting to hit Muscovites where it hurts:

Fish costs jumped 30 percent in the past month, according to Dve Palochki’s Sukhochev. Customers at the 40-restaurant chain, which uses 15 tons of salmon a month, also have complained about the pale color of the Chilean salmon, he said. Sukhochev plans to roll out a new menu next month that will pass some of the added costs on to consumers.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:20 (eight years ago) link

Feel like this is a good thread to link to this

, Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:45 (eight years ago) link

The series from Dagestan on her site is very good.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:50 (eight years ago) link

New report on political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 26 September 2014 05:36 (eight years ago) link

The Prosecutor General has requested that Bashneft be returned to state control:

Yevtushenkov, who was previously the 15th richest Russian with a net worth of £5.5bn, according to Forbes Russia, was unexpectedly charged with money laundering and embezzlement earlier this month. The accusations relate to his 80% stake in Bashneft, acquired over almost a decade from structures controlled by Ural Rakhimov, who has been placed under an international search warrant. Rakhimov initially purchased Bashneft in 2003 from the government of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan, which was at that time led by his father.

Yevtushenkov’s case has been labelled “Yukos 2.0” by the business community and likened to the case against oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose leading Yukos oil company was broken up and absorbed by state energy champion Rosneft after he was sent to prison for a decade in 2003. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has denied the case is politically motivated.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 27 September 2014 07:15 (eight years ago) link

A suicide bombing in Grozny killed five police officers yesterday:

Ramzan Kadyrov has his own commemorative coin:

The Latvian ruling coalition (a mixture of centre-right, agrarian and hard-right parties) won about 60% of the vote in the election last week but the single largest party was broadly pro-Russian 'Harmony', on about 23%. Worth remembering that about 14% of Latvia's population (or 320,000, almost all of them Russian) aren't eligible to vote as 'non-citizens'.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 11:37 (eight years ago) link

Wow that's a messed up status

, Monday, 6 October 2014 11:44 (eight years ago) link

Yes, it's the same in Estonia. Some people prefer it as it allows for easier movement to and from Russia but lots just find the naturalisation process (which requires competency in the absurdly complex Estonian language) too great a barrier. They can live there but have no right to vote.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 6 October 2014 17:02 (eight years ago) link

This is bonkers and already receiving pushback from members of the ruling party.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 October 2014 19:25 (eight years ago) link

Far-right clashing with police / government in Kiev:

Tipping point seems to have been the failure of the government to formally recognise the wartime contribution of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army who allied themselves with the Nazis during WW2.

Sure it'll blow over before i'm there on Thursday.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 14 October 2014 13:47 (eight years ago) link

oh hey I missed this thread before, bookmarked and thank you!

sleeve, Tuesday, 14 October 2014 15:14 (eight years ago) link

Things are perversely quiet at Maidan Nezalezhnosti at the moment. I'm used to it being a hub of activity, commerce and, particularly in the run up to an election, political campaigning but there's nothing much happening now. There are some small shrines to those killed earlier in the year and enormous banners masking the most heavily damaged building proclaiming "long live Ukraine, long live the heroes". You can see where stones and bricks were prised up to use as weapons but there are few other visual signs anything happened.

My hotel doubles as the Ukraine Crisis Briefing Centre though most of the journalists seem to have gone elsewhere now. There are quite a few soldiers in fatigues sitting around outside - presumably back from the East and with nothing much to do now but drink beer and scratch up some money. There are plenty of people 'collecting for the war effort' but most are just using it as a ruse to scam some change.

The campaigning that is going on ahead of the election next week seems really subdued compared to normal. Blok Poroshenko, Timoshenko's group, Svoboda and the National Front are all present but there's very little energy and activity. I'm used to huge tents, lots of noise and lots of people but it's very quiet at the moment. The one huge element missing is the Party Of The Regions, of course.

There's more nationalist kitsch about and some Pravy Sektor graffiti here and there but no sign of the huge far-right presence that was here earlier in the week.

The one really obvious difference from the last time I was here is the sense of economic decline. Lots of shops in the glitzy malls are vacant, the main shopping streets are very quiet and Bessarabsky Rynok looks almost like a normal fruit and veg market. The combination of uncertain incomes and rampant inflation has hit hard. Also fewer adverts for new flats and high-interest savings accounts.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 17 October 2014 13:11 (eight years ago) link

Radek Sikorski apparently told Politico that Putin had offered to partition Ukraine with Poland in a meeting with Donald Tusk in Moscow in 2008.

He's currently backtracking and getting rinsed by his own Prime Minister:

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 16:57 (eight years ago) link

Looks like the Russia / Ukraine gas deal has stalled. The price has been agreed but Ukraine simply doesn't have any money to pay either outstanding debts or for winter deliveries.

Russia has said the EU should cover immediate costs, the EU isn't particularly keen. I was discussing this with a Ukrainian colleague the other day, someone fully behind the move towards closer ties with Western Europe, and we both came to the conclusion that the EU had vastly understimated how much money it would cost to bring Ukraine out of Russia's orbit. If the intention was to rebuild the country's economic and financial structure to ensure it wasn't predominantly reliant on Russia in the future and could, one day, be a candidate country for membership, there needs to be an international commitment to supporting that with hundreds of billions of Euro. Weaselling out of offering €2bn to keep the lights on this winter isn't a good sign any real effort will be made to follow through on the hints and half promises made earlier in the year. Ultimately, the EU probably can't afford to back Ukraine properly and is justifiably concerned about where a lot of the money would go if it did.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:25 (eight years ago) link

"from the southern seas to the Polish lands" amirite guys

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Wednesday, 22 October 2014 10:20 (eight years ago) link

sv what do you think of kaspaov

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (eight years ago) link


the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Friday, 24 October 2014 21:55 (eight years ago) link

Not a fan. I think he's broadly sincere but extremely naive. On paper a lot of his proposals have sounded reasonable in the past but his alignment with US neocons and various dubious oligarchs have always given the impression that he's being used as a palatable front for much more sinister interests. He has become increasingly hysterical in his rhetoric in recent years too. The Other Russia concept of a broad anti-Putin alliance spanning the whole political spectrum was interesting for a while but at this stage he's just an irrelevance playing to a Western gallery. He doesn't even have any real support from Russian liberals. Navalny is a more significant figure these days.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 24 October 2014 22:18 (eight years ago) link

If the exit polls are to be believed, Poroshenko has done much worse than expected and Yatseniuk much better.

БПП (23%), "НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%), "САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%), ОБ (7,6%), РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%), "СВОБОДА"(6,3%), "БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) НАЦ ЭП

Real success for the Samopomich party too. Lyashko's Radical Party was polling at around 12% previously, so to see them take only half of that is a relief. Timoshenko polling behind Svoboda looks like total humiliation.

Hopefully this will mean a fairly stable Poroshenko / Yatseniuk coalition that doesn't need to draw support from the further-right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 18:28 (eight years ago) link

Should probably post that in English, really:

БПП (23%) - Blok Petro Poroshenko (centre-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of the current President.

"НАРОДНЫЙ ФРОНТ"(21,3%)- People's Front (hard-right, pro-European, nationalist) - party of former PM Arseniy Yatseniuk. Previously closer to Poroshenko but turned increasingly to the right as the relationship faltered.

"САМОПОМИЧ"(13,2%) - Samopomich (Christian Conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - effectively a regional party with a lot of supporters in the West of the country. Hanna Hopko, who headed their party list, is one to watch out for in the future, she was very active in the protests and has picked up a lot of attention internationally. Second on the list was Semen Semenchenko who was the head of the anti-separatist Donbass Battalion militia.

ОБ (7,6%) - Opposition Block (conservative, pro-Russian) - disorganised remnant of the Party Of The Regions, previously the largest party in Ukraine.

РАДИКАЛЬНАЯ ПАРТИЯ(6,4%) - Radical Party (far-right, pro-European, nationalist) - wildcard party led by Oleh Lyashko, an antisemitic vigilante nutcase.

"СВОБОДА"(6,3%) - Svoboda (neo-Nazi, nationalist)

"БАТЬКИВЩИНА"(5,6%) - Bat'kivshina (conservative, pro-European, nationalist) - Yulia Timoshenko's party. Seems to have completely collapsed.

Turnout was around 40% nationally, though as low as 16% in Odessa.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:11 (eight years ago) link

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 26 October 2014 19:19 (eight years ago) link

Anyone interested can keep track of the results as they come in here:

With a third of the vote counted, Yatseniuk's party is actually fractionally in front of Poroshenko's, though to all intents and purposes, it's a dead heat.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 08:05 (eight years ago) link

good luck ukraine

Still only 72% of ballots counted but it looks like the proportion of the Fascist vote going to Lyashko was underestimated and Svoboda might just miss the 5% threshold for PR representation as a result. They are at 4.7% at the moment.

Positives, if things stay as they, are would be that between them, the three main parties should be able to form a stable government in the short term. The worst case scenario of Lyashko getting 15% and getting to act as kingmaker has been avoided. Svoboda will probably miss out on PR seats. Timoshenko faces at least a couple of years in the wilderness. There are a few interesting new faces (Mustafa Nayem, Hanna Hopko, etc). Yatseniuk's rep as a safe pair of hands might mean the EU is more likely to open the purse strings if he is PM.

Negatives are zero representation from parties that can credibly be called liberal, progressive or leftist. No parties that can credibly claim to bridge ethnic gap. Only voices for Russian Ukrainians are the dregs of the party run out of town (meaning most had nobody worth voting for, and didn't bother). Nobody to act as a break on the rush to IMF austerity. Approx 14% of the vote for Fascist parties. Two of the six parties explicitly controlled by oligarchs, at least three of the remaining four covertly controlled by them (not sure about Samopomich but wouldn't be surprised). No sign of grass roots politics taking hold.

Despite his recently discovered appreciation of WW2 war criminals, Poroshenko is probably the closest thing to a European moderate and losing so much ground to Yatseniuk isn't good news either.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Monday, 27 October 2014 18:57 (eight years ago) link

kinda lol but mostly sad

RT is going to launch a dedicated UK channel this week:

Not a huge amount of bespoke programming but they've apparently been spending a lot on recruitment so it's likely to grow. No doubt my dad, who watches it religiously for some reason, will be thrilled. If the price of oil keeps dropping the spending on propaganda might scale back, though.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:16 (eight years ago) link

Balkanist has been running some great cultural content recently, particularly about turbofolk in Serbia. They're going to do a horror film supplement for Halloween in the next day or two as well.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:39 (eight years ago) link

RT is kinda fascinating as a repository of stuff which would otherwise never make it onto television in any semi serious form but is instead lent the authoritative news-channel-sheen. max keiser flatly explaining to russell brand how a newly independent scotland should adopt bitcoin as its currency and there's not even really a hint that there might be another credible view

ogmor, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 14:06 (eight years ago) link

RT guy on R4 just now not really doing a good job of selling it

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:49 (eight years ago) link

rt >>>>> r4

the final twilight of all evaluative standpoints (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:54 (eight years ago) link

no, come on, you can't seriously be comparing the craven and mendacious propaganda arm of an authoritarian government with Russia Today ho ho ho

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:58 (eight years ago) link

That's what the RT guy said

DG, Wednesday, 29 October 2014 16:59 (eight years ago) link

Kyiv's oldest and best cinema, Zhovten, burned down last night in what's thought to have been an arson attack.

It had been the subject of an ongoing land dispute but the suspicion is that it's linked to the fact it was showing Mario Fanfani's Les Nuits d'Ete as part of an LGBT-friendly film festival.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 08:04 (eight years ago) link

cool that ukraine has detached itself from the corrupt, bigoted, authoritarian Russian sphere of influence tho

intelligent, expressive males within the greater metropolitan (Bananaman Begins), Thursday, 30 October 2014 11:08 (eight years ago) link

Russia / Ukraine deal on gas has been finalised with the EU acting as guarantor. Someone has come up with $3bn from somewhere to cover old debts and down payment. Means the heating will stay on through the winter, which is great news.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 30 October 2014 22:15 (eight years ago) link

The number of people who say they'd vote for Putin again if there was an election tomorrow has dipped below 50% for the first time since the Ukraine crisis started - possibly a hint that there are concerns about sanctions hitting the economy.

It's still substantially higher than the 26% he was polling earlier in the year and with Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party in second place (with 7%) it's not exactly a sign of greater plurality.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 31 October 2014 08:17 (eight years ago) link

This guy has just been made Chief Of Police in Kyiv

Note the insignia on his shirt.

He's Deputy Commander of the neo-Nazi Azov militia.

Neither of the two main parties are Fascist in any meaningful sense but clearly there's a perceived need to pander to the extreme right.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 1 November 2014 14:42 (eight years ago) link

Reports are coming through suggesting that the suspected Moscow "Grand Theft Auto" killers have been caught.

They were apparently putting spikes on roads late at night and shooting anyone whose cars got stopped by them, for no apparent reason. Nothing was ever stolen. They were thought to have killed at least 14 people in the last few months. It sounds a bit like an urban legend but is supposedly 100% true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 6 November 2014 12:13 (eight years ago) link

The Rouble has gone crazy. Was about 50 to the GBP this time last year. Was 71 yesterday, 76 today.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:15 (eight years ago) link

Banks are reportedly running out of foreign currency (as they did in Ukraine months ago) because so many people are trying to take their savings out in Dollars and Euro. If it hasn't happened already, i wouldn't be surprised to see them follow Ukraine in limiting the amount of cash people can take out in a day.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Friday, 7 November 2014 08:18 (eight years ago) link


sleeve, Friday, 7 November 2014 15:01 (eight years ago) link

The "ceasefire", which was never really a ceasefire on either side, looks officially over now. Ukraine has claimed separatists in Donetsk have received a resupply of heavy weaponry from Russia and the Ukrainian army has stepped up shelling of the area. ITAR-TASS says that they've hit a kindergarten, killing several children. The Netherlands have donated €500k worth of what are euphemistically in Ukraine called "wearable anti-cold-systems" (which means warm coats and boots without holes in them) but nobody has committed to donating arms yet. There's speculation that the US Republicans might try to force something through, though idk if they would be allowed to even if they wanted to.

Interesting things happening in Georgia. The firing of the Defense Minister has been seen by some, particularly the fired Defense Minister, as a shift away from Europe and towards Russia. The government has restated that EU membership remains a priority though.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Sunday, 9 November 2014 11:16 (eight years ago) link

Azerbaijan has shot down an Armenian helicopter that was apparently flying close to the border of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan proper.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Wednesday, 12 November 2014 13:11 (eight years ago) link

More on the Armenia / Azeri helicopter thing:

“This is the worst military incident in more than 20 years since the cease-fire,” Thomas de Waal, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said by e-mail from Washington.

Seen as a continuation of the incidents that killed around 20 people in the summer, that's probably true.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:29 (eight years ago) link

Not really region-specific but the ability of any currency to drop about 15% in an hour and a quarter when the automated trades are triggered is fairly terrifying. Ukraine keeps ploughing money into trying to stabilise the UAH and the effects last about a week before being totally wiped out. I'm not sure what you can do in that situation.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 November 2014 08:40 (eight years ago) link

The official explanation in both cases, iirc, is confederates were arrested for something else and informed on them but I’m not sure how many people buy that.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 July 2020 08:55 (two years ago) link

Up to 40k people protesting now.

Khabarovsk’s protests against the arrest of their governor are quite something. The murder allegations could very well be true, but the case is nevertheless political and the public fucking knows it.

— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) July 11, 2020

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 11 July 2020 09:37 (two years ago) link

Aha. There are reports that the investigation into Furgal kicked off again after a conflict with a businessman from Boris and Arkady Rotenberg's circle.

Furgal bought half of the Amurmetal steel producer (on paper, it was Furgal's wife who bought it), the other half was purchased by a businessman who borrowed their stake from the Rotenberg family. Furgal subsequently supported a ban on the export of scrap metal through Eastern ports, giving Amurmetal a monopoly. The businessman wanted to sell his share to Chinese investors, Furgal didn't and they ended up accusing each other of fraud. It was apparently around this time that the murder investigation was opened again.

The Rotenbergs are two of Putin's closest advisors and, generally, when they want their interests advanced by the state, they are. As is often the case, all this political intrigue can probably be traced back to a couple of criminals fighting over privatised state assets.

Incidentally Boris Rotenberg jr's contract has finally expired at Lokomotiv Moscow. He was a non-playing substitute for the best part of five years - getting on the pitch nine times over that period, and not once since 2017-2018. He also has a solitary cap for Finland.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Tuesday, 14 July 2020 09:09 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Today's O_o news is that the Belarusian press agency has announced 32 mercenaries from Wagner were arrested at a sanatorium in Minsk and have been accused of trying to destabilise Lukashenko's election campaign.

Nobody i've seen can make any sense of it.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 12:54 (two years ago) link

The most plausible explanation so far is that they were transiting through Belarus before or after fighting in Libya to avoid the Russian COVID travel restrictions but Lukashenko's media seizing on the opportunity to claim he was being undermined is interesting.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 16:28 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Difficult to predict what'll happen in Belarus now but i'd guess that if anything's going to move the dial, it'd be large-scale industrial action. There have been a few state-linked companies whose workers have gone on strike, idk how much that'll grow.

It's probably fair to assume that even people who voted for Lukashenko on the grounds of stability will be aware that the ballot was massively rigged. He has never appeared more vulnerable or rattled. A speech he gave prior to the vote suggested that he thought his fifteen year-old son, and presumed long-term successor, Kolya, had turned against him.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 August 2020 08:09 (two years ago) link

Well there you go:

A number of major enterprises have joined the strike in #Belarus
Now it's truly national

- Grodno Azot, chemical-industry giant
- Belmedpreparaty, pharmaceutical plant
- Keramin, one of the largest ceramic tiles producers in Europe

— Denis Kazakiewicz (@Den_2042) August 13, 2020

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Thursday, 13 August 2020 11:46 (two years ago) link

This seems like a good analysis both of why this is happening now and why it's different from opposition movements in other parts of the region.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Friday, 14 August 2020 09:56 (two years ago) link

thanks for these links

sleeve, Saturday, 15 August 2020 00:45 (two years ago) link

Today's O_o news is that the Belarusian press agency has announced 32 mercenaries from Wagner were arrested at a sanatorium in Minsk and have been accused of trying to destabilise Lukashenko's election campaign.

Nobody i've seen can make any sense of it.

There's a completely bananas and as yet thinly-sourced story circulating that this was part of an elaborate sting operation by the Ukrainian secret services. Essentially, they set up a fake mercenary company in Russia and recruited a bunch of people they wanted to arrest for fighting in Donbas, on the pretext that they were sending them to Syria. They'd be deployed from Belarus but, on the way from Minsk to Istanbul, the plane would run into 'technical difficulties' and be forced to land in Kyiv, where they'd be arrested.

This was supposedly leaked by someone in the Ukrainian government, so Russia and Belarus had to swoop in to 'arrest' them before they could get on the plane - leading to recriminations between the security services and government in Ukraine.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 19 August 2020 10:47 (two years ago) link

Alex Navalny has been med-evac’d to Berlin, which can only be a good thing.

The assumption for years, which is still in place for a lot of analysts, including some harsh Putin critics, has been that Navalny is officially ‘untouchable’. He’s divisive enough not to be a major threat but popular enough that if anything happened to him, you can expect a wave of protests that would destabilise the country. The timing, against the backdrop of what’s happening with Furgal and in Belarus would also be strange.

However, Oleg Kashin, a friend of Navalny who is not typically given to massive hyperbole, is speculating about changing circumstances meaning the system has ‘moved past the need for opposition’.

The most obvious alternative, that Putin has lost control over the levers of political violence, is no more comforting. As with the Nemtsov case, there was speculation at the time that it wasn’t green-lit by Putin but whoever organised it didn’t care.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 22 August 2020 05:17 (two years ago) link

Looks like he hasn’t made it to Berlin...

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 22 August 2020 08:10 (two years ago) link

It was delayed but the plane apparently landed in Germany a couple of hours ago.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Saturday, 22 August 2020 08:58 (two years ago) link

Khabarovsk protests continuing, and it seems still very little crackdown?

anvil, Monday, 31 August 2020 07:03 (two years ago) link

The German government has released a statement suggesting Navalny was poisoned with something similar to Novichok.

Poisoning someone with a deadly nerve agent in a busy-ish airport doesn't seem like something that'll go down particularly well with the public.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 2 September 2020 13:55 (two years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Azerbaijan have released a military music video, featuring their soldiers playing guitars in front of APCs and other military hardware. This is truly is bizarre.

— Julian Lacey 🕊️ (@simulacrax) October 1, 2020

calzino, Thursday, 1 October 2020 22:10 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

We have modern weaponry and high fighting spirit. We showed who’s who and proved that Armenia’s ”invincible army” was a myth. They have already admitted defeat. This is an acknowledgment of their military defeat and our victory.

— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) November 4, 2020

The "this" referred to is a request from Armenia to Russia for military assistance. Realistically, it seems virtually inconceivable that Russia could send troops / commanders to offer the same kind of assistance that Azerbaijan has received from Turkey.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 4 November 2020 11:45 (two years ago) link

Nikol Pashinyan, PM of Armenia, has said via Facebook that he has signed an ‘unspeakably painful’ peace declaration to end the war tonight - almost inevitably ceding control of Karabakh to Azerbaijan.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Monday, 9 November 2020 22:15 (two years ago) link

1. Armenia implements UN resolutions, different districts hand over to Azerbaijani authorities before 15th November, 20th November, 1 December,
2. Current frontlines halt as of Moscow midnight
3. Russian Federation peacekeepers to protect 5kms Lachin corridor for 5 years

— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) November 9, 2020

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Monday, 9 November 2020 22:18 (two years ago) link

It turns out the President of Armenia only found out about the ceasefire treaty via Facebook as well and has said the PM can’t sign anything without it being based on a ‘national consensus’.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Tuesday, 10 November 2020 07:16 (two years ago) link

one month passes...
one month passes...

this seems significant?

Russia braces for latest Navalny protests

Überschadenfreude (sleeve), Sunday, 31 January 2021 06:50 (two years ago) link

It’s honestly hard to tell at this stage whether it’s going to be any more significant than the 2019 protests but we’ll see. There is a clear individual injustice that a lot of people can agree needs to be remedied - Navalny should be released - but idk where this goes when that does / doesn’t happen.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Sunday, 31 January 2021 07:13 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

Anyway just wanted to showcase this happening tomorrow!

Sign up now for the Zoom-Panel with Soviet Rock 'n' Roll Musicians with Joanna Stingray 🎸 March 5 from 12pm - 1pm Pacific Time, hosted by the Wende Museum of the Cold War and moderated by music journalist @NedRaggett

— DoppelHouse Press (@DoppelHouse) February 25, 2021

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 4 March 2021 22:24 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

Can anyone explain what just happened at the Ukrainian border?

lukas, Friday, 23 April 2021 05:13 (two years ago) link

This piece from the Carnegie Moscow Centre has some background on the situation:

The announcements yesterday were that the bulk of the Russian divisions taking part in the exercise would withdraw, either to their home bases or to a temporary midpoint until pre-planned drills later in the year. It sounds like a smaller division will probably remain in Crimea and convert to a permanent regiment there.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Friday, 23 April 2021 08:09 (two years ago) link

Michael Kofman is usually worth following for updates on this stuff.

Russian MoD shows signs of beginning a troop withdrawal - looks like they're redeploying. Will continue to watch this space. Questions remain on what units besides elements of the 41st CAA might be left forward deployed in the region.

— Michael Kofman (@KofmanMichael) April 23, 2021

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Friday, 23 April 2021 12:52 (two years ago) link

Thanks, that Carnegie piece links to this, which I got a lot out of:

For Putin, this fall from grace was totally avoidable. His ratings nosedive can be traced directly back to June 2018, when the Russian government announced a proposal to raise the retirement age from 55 to 63 for women and from 60 to 65 for men. (The unpopular bill, which was enacted that October, ended up raising the retirement age for women to just 60.) It was a violation of the core, unwritten social contract of Putin’s Russia: We vote for you, and you don’t touch our social benefits.

lukas, Friday, 23 April 2021 17:17 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

Yes, and difficult to imagine it won’t lead to repercussions for Belarus, though it’s not completely clear what those are going to be, given that the leadership is already under sanction. Could possibly mean ending flights in to / over the country,

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Monday, 24 May 2021 11:05 (two years ago) link

The press release from RyanAir was a fucking disgrace.

nashwan, Monday, 24 May 2021 11:17 (two years ago) link

Belavia has been banned from operating via the U.K.

The Belarusian authorities have, rather optimistically, tried to blame Hamas.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Monday, 24 May 2021 15:02 (two years ago) link

BA flight from London to Islamabad now bypassing Belarus following Raab's announcement

nashwan, Monday, 24 May 2021 17:03 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

What the fuck is going on in Belarus right now? Is this accurate?

Bonkers... Belarussian authorities have granted thousands of migrants from the Middle East visas to visit, and then escorted them to the borders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, under watchful eye of Belarussian authorities, and stranded them in the cold.

— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) November 11, 2021

Belarus dictator is the pits, but this is some real passive-aggressive shit-stirring.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 11 November 2021 22:05 (one year ago) link

This is a good piece on the use of ‘weaponised migration’ as a concept:

Both sides are behaving appallingly. Belarus is, at minimum, profiteering from people’s desperation to reach the EU, financially and politically. Poland and Lithuania have blocked routes, had guards violently attack people trying to cross and are preventing NGOs from coming within 2km of the border to offer food and medical aid. This has been going on for months and is only going to get worse as the temperatures drop.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Thursday, 11 November 2021 23:54 (one year ago) link

ten months pass...

Heavy artillery fire being reported from Azerbaijan towards Armenia.

— Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) September 12, 2022

unsurprising timing

anvil, Monday, 12 September 2022 22:20 (eight months ago) link

I am not a military or 'border conflict' expert. I am a political analyst with years of fieldwork research in Kyrgyzstan. Since there is a need to explain what's going b/n Kyrgyzstan & Tajikistan, I thought to collect here some analysis by my colleagues & myself.
A long thread🧵

— Asel Doolotkeldieva (@ADoolotkeldieva) September 18, 2022

borrowed Ostalgia for the unremembered 80s (MoominTrollin), Sunday, 18 September 2022 15:39 (eight months ago) link

Any recommendations for reading on the Turkey/Greece situation? Elections next year and inflation in Turkey eye-watering

anvil, Friday, 23 September 2022 11:15 (eight months ago) link

four weeks pass...

Starting to look at possible scenarios for 2023 here with election 7 months away

anvil, Friday, 21 October 2022 13:09 (seven months ago) link

five months pass...

This has ome around pretty fast, looks like going to a run-off which would presumably then be advantage Kilicdaroglu

anvil, Tuesday, 18 April 2023 10:17 (one month ago) link

Seems a bit like Brazil except the ominous upswing for Erdogan now has me thinking he will squeak it (because people looovveee jailing journalists and hyperinflation?).

nashwan, Tuesday, 18 April 2023 10:44 (one month ago) link

two weeks pass...

Less than a week to go, bit of a kerfuffle with a bus and some stones in Erzurum.

anvil, Monday, 8 May 2023 06:42 (one month ago) link

Read a suggestion that because parliament is Erdogan controlled, after the run off Erdoğan’s line will be “vote me to avoid split government with Kılıçdaroğlu”. Be v interesting to see what happens. You certainly wouldn’t want to bet against Erdoğan - experienced and has the media and state control to generate his preferred outcome.

Fizzles, Monday, 8 May 2023 07:00 (one month ago) link

not sure this is exactly the right thread for ongoing turkey conversation but as we’re here, roll out the barrel:

Erdoğan gives public workers 45 percent pay rise in Turkey’s tight election race

Fizzles, Wednesday, 10 May 2023 09:35 (four weeks ago) link

Greece 's elections following on from this week after next, but its the upcoming Slovak elections in September that look most concerning, Slovakia been heading in a bad direction for a while now

anvil, Wednesday, 10 May 2023 10:54 (four weeks ago) link

Not sure whats happening here with delays in certain districts, but looks like it will go to second round as predicted?

anvil, Sunday, 14 May 2023 21:20 (three weeks ago) link

Looks like Erdogan has this now in the run off

anvil, Monday, 15 May 2023 10:01 (three weeks ago) link

That guy on the Ryanair flight Belarus forced to land a couple of years ago unexpectedly released!

anvil, Tuesday, 23 May 2023 07:01 (two weeks ago) link

damn what's the catch

nashwan, Tuesday, 23 May 2023 08:20 (two weeks ago) link

Not really sure! like a lot of things of late

anvil, Tuesday, 23 May 2023 08:57 (two weeks ago) link

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